Friday, May 19, 2006

Rename Your Blog? I Don't Think So!

I said earlier DO NOT Delete Your Blog. I will now add to that advice.
DO NOT Rename Your Blog.


At least, do not rename your blog using the simple Dashboard procedure
  • Settings
  • Publishing
  • Type in new name for "Blog*Spot Address"

as suggested by Blogger For Dummies.

Why? Redirect Trouble Renaming your blog, without leaving a stub behind, is the same as deleting your blog. The old name is available to the spammers. If you decide, in the future, that the old name was better, you'll likely find that name unavailable.

  • We know the bad guys are actively hijacking deleted blogs, to recycle the search engine visibility that they have gathered.
  • From the problems discovered to date, it's pretty certain that they are using automated techniques - not just searching by hand.
  • It's pretty likely that any computers being used for the searching are hijacked, ie bots.
  • The reliablity of individual bots is pretty low. Bots are Lossy. At any time, a botted computer might be:
    • Cleaned up by the legal owner.
    • Disconnected from the network.
    • Turned off.
    • Lose Internet service.

  • Blog hijacks, and Spam Blogs ("splogs") are big business. The bad guys have access to bot armies, counted by the thousands.
  • It takes not too much imagination to see two (or more) bots finding an "abandoned" blog (deleted, or being renamed), and simultaneously try to hijack it. I'd be surprised if there wasn't even some competition by the bad guys, just as the hackers compete to build up the largest bot armies.
  • What might happen if two (or more) bots try to hijack a blog simultaneously? Well, I'd be extremely surprised if there is any queing or non-lockup mechanism built into bot code. Why should the bad guys care about problems? Their object is just to hijack blogs. In WiFi networking, it's called a collision. In this case, it's a corrupted blog.
  • See A Blogger Security Problem?, for some possible real cases.

Prove me wrong. Please.

If you must move your blog to a new name, or to external publishing, plan the change carefully.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Adding A Google Sitemap To Your Blog

By adding a Google sitemap to your blog, you can more easily submit your site for indexing, to the Google search engine spider.

You get better coverage by the spider, than by simply submitting your blog to the Google search engine. You'll also get detailed statistics about how Google sends traffic your way, and how the Google spider sees your blog.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

If It's Not One Thing, It's Another

Today, Blogger seems to be up.

But try posting to Google Blogger Help.

The latest post there is about 3 hours old now.


  • When trying to post a reply, I get an error bidding me to email groups-support@google.com.
  • That gives me botmail.

    Thank you for taking the time to write us. If you have questions or feedback about Google Groups, please visit our Help Center, which will provide you with quicker answers to your questions. The Google Groups Help Center is located at http://groups-beta.google.com/support. After searching and browsing the Help Center, if you'd still like to contact us, please click on the contact link at the bottom of the Help Center, select the topic that best describes your question, and send us a message.

    (SNIP)

    Regards,
    The Google Team


  • I filled out a second form at http://groups-beta.google.com/support/bin/request.py, and got back more botmail.

    Thank you for your interest in Google Groups Beta. We're actively developing this service and your feedback is important to us. This is just a note to let you know we've received your email, and you'll hear from us soon.

    To further assist our users, we've created a Google Groups Help Center, where you can search or browse our available support information. If you haven't already, please check out the Help Center at http://groups-beta.google.com/support

    We'll be updating the Help Center frequently based on feedback and new developments. Thanks again for your feedback and for using Google.

    Regards,
    The Google Team


  • I have to keep reminding myself this: Why do I do this?


Update, 5/10 23:00: Looks like Google - Blogger Help is back in business.

Update, 5/15 11:30: I JUST got an update from Google Help:
Google Help to me

Thank you for your note. We reviewed the "Blogger Help Group" and everything is working well. When posting to this group, please make sure to log in to your Google Account by clicking the "Sign in" link on the top right-hand corner of the page.

If we can assist you further, please let us know.

Regards,
The Google Team

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Post A Comment Here Please

Post Body
Lorem ipsum vim ut utroque mandamus intellegebat, ut eam omittam ancillae sadipscing, per et eius soluta veritus.

And I appreciate your willingness to help.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Spam Blogs #2

Blogs falsely identified as spam are a real problem in the Blogger world.

But genuine spam is a worse problem. The Register has two articles on this issue, Porno blog spam turns nasty and Google bug blocks thousands of sites.

If you've been seeing your visit counts drop recently, as I have, now you know why. Also, when you search your blog, and get an error "...entry cannot not be found...", you may be seeing a side effect of this problem.

The thing is, the effects of spam blogs, aka splogs, are hurting us in several ways.

  • Some of us have legitimate blogs, that are being incorrectly identified as splogs. In some cases, the blogs are deleted or disabled. We have to waste time getting Blogger to restore or re enable them. This wastes our time, and Blogger Support's time. Real, urgent, problems aren't being dealt with, because Blogger Support is busy dealing with splogs.
  • Blogger infrastructure is being overloaded, by the spammers creating and linking thousands of splogs. We are seeing hardware failures, caused by their volume. I have had to change my Blogger server, from miscellaneous hangups, 3 times in the last week. This is an increase of maybe 600% for me.
  • The search engines, like Google, are being overloaded by the splogs. The splog volume makes search engines work harder to index, and to retrieve, lists including the splogs.
  • The search engine hit lists are being overloaded by splogs producing hits. Our blogs can't be seen in the search hits lists, because of all of the splogs in there.
  • Maybe even Corrupted Blogs, caused by over redundant or badly coded hijacking processes.


I created a profile in an online forum somewhere yesterday. One item in the profile was labeled "interests". This is what I put in there:
I would like to see every spammer in the world shot to death. Then charge them for the bullets!

I wrote that before I read some of the articles linked thru the two above. Now I would add "... and charge their survivors double!".

I am very suspicious that yesterday's Google - Blogger Help Forum problem was splog related. And I know that some of the decrease in visits to my blogs, noted recently, are just that.

Die, sploggers!

See Spam Blogs #3 for a discussion about the scope of the problem.

>> Top

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

A Blogger Security Problem?

Right now, as Blogger Support fixes the ongoing external publishing problems, and the photo upload problems, there is a third problem surfacing. Blog Hijacks.

It appears that there are several issues for us to consider.

  1. Abandoned (deleted) blogs, by willful action of the owner, or by Blogger anti-splog efforts.
  2. Switched to external publishing or a different URL, without planning completely.
  3. Security (or lack of security) on our computers.
  4. Unintentional hijackings, caused by collisions in blog name choice.


Here are a few of the problems reported, in the forums recently. Probably a lot of folks suffering don't know that they are not alone. I know there are others, that I haven't had the time to list here. And there are doubtless others, folks who don't know about the forums.

We need more analysis, and Blogger Support is not helping us. If you know anything about this problem, and have not reported what you know, you are part of the problem.

Of the 3 categories above, which one does each of the following fall under?

Keep the Blogger Help procedures handy, for that is where you will have to start.

NOTE: A recent trick that the sploggers seem to be using is hiding the Navbar. This keeps us from using the Flag button, to prevent the splog from being truly productive. Well, you can defeat that trick!